I don’t usually write about people without first asking their permission. If need be, I’ll ask forgiveness later.
Last week Bill and I and two sons spent several days in Manitoba helping my parents move from their country home of 28 years into a senior’s living complex in town. We sorted, packed, hauled, and then sold five pick-up truck loads of their personal belongings at a yard sale.
There are stories of laughter as we encountered photos of “young grandpa” in his underwear and grandma’s glamour head shots. We sat in reverent awe after discovering a small envelope of century-old taxidermy glass eyes my great-grandfather used in his bird sculptures. Our hearts ached periodically as we said goodbye to an era of farm adventures.
But my takeaways from the experience go beyond the work and uncovered treasures. I learned something about aging well.
My parents would tell you that deciding to leave their homestead has not been without challenge. They have wrestled with the idea, recognized the need, and moved toward this new home for 20 months. It’s hard to let go of a place so full of memories.
And yet they did it, with grace.
Numerous times as we sold off item after item I wondered if they would balk and change their minds. They didn’t. They let us negotiate with the garage sale bargain hunters and embraced the attitude of “just get rid of it.” They parted with myriad earthly possessions while recognizing that punch bowls and lawn sprinklers had served their purpose for a different season of life. They no longer need them.
I must confess I do not like garage sales, particularly the idea of hawkers poking through belongings and haggling over price so they can turn around and sell it for a buck more at the flea market. God and I had several conversations about this aspect of helping my parents.
And He gave a beautiful, unexpected gift. The town where mom and dad now reside is home to a large immigrant population. By far the highest percentage of our customers was young families new to Canada from the Philippines trying to furnish homes economically. We gave great deals to grateful people. It’s lovely knowing my parent’s things are appreciated and will be put to good use.
But the bigger lesson to me is the value of letting go graciously. I want to hold my stuff loosely and be ready to part with it willingly. I long to celebrate and be present to each stage of life, not clinging to the past or fearing the future.
I suspect it will take some time for mom and dad to settle into their new apartment and that the transition won’t be without trials. That’s normal. But I take my hat off to them for embracing the change and not fighting every step of the way.
Well done, you two. Take the week off.
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst